Bring Back The Guns, Dry Futures

Bring Back The Guns, Dry Futures

It only takes about the first five seconds of the first track of their it’s-been-fuckin-long-enough-y’all debut CD, “No More Good Songs,” for Houston indie-rockers Bring Back The Guns to demonstrate why they regularly top local critics’ lists of Local Bands That Really Deserve Some Damn Respect (and Cash, Please, Lots of It). Over a pounding, stomping beat and crunching guitars, singer/guitarist Matt Brownlie yells and howls, ducking in and out of noisily melodic lines and crazed polka-sounding drums, sounding like that crazy guy on the corner who catches you unawares late at night when you’re out walking all by yourself. He comes off as being mad as a hatter (at least lyrically), frantic and insistent and scary, but his words and delivery are still somehow fascinating nonetheless.

And honestly, that’s pretty much always how Bring Back The Guns’ music has struck me. They’re weird and clever, almost too smart for their own good, and they play music that simultaneously gives a big middle finger to pop convention and manages to be addictively catchy. The closest comparison I’ve been able to come up with — and yeah, I know this is dangerous — is to the Pixies. Not since Black Francis & co. infused rock with freaked-out college-graduate smarts have I heard a band that comes as close as BBTG, and I mean that in the best possible way. Just when I think I know where a song’s going, it abruptly switches gears and does something totally different.

To the band’s credit, it’s easy to screw something like that up. Take a song like “The Art Of Malnutrition,” for one; it starts off quiet and cartoony before clicking into a bent Modest Mouse-esque groove, then veers into more dramatic, nearly math-rock territory and a grand, urgent-sounding chorus. There are so many damn places it could fall flat on its face. But in spite of itself, it all flies, exactly like it was supposed to, like it’s the most natural thing in the world. The various bits and pieces don’t feel like they’ve been grafted together but instead just flow easily into one another.

Actually, I kind of lied above, now that I’m thinking about it. Beyond the Pixies, the four guys in Bring Back The Guns also strongly remind me of countrified psych-rockers the Grifters; songs like “Let’s Not” or “Take It Like A” have that same loose-limbed, swaying majesty, those wonderfully murky guitars, not to mention a similar sense of not giving a shit about what other folks think. Of course, there’s also the fact that, like the Grifters, I generally don’t have a clue what Brownlie’s singing/screaming about — is “The Art Of Malnutrition” an acid critique of political talking heads? Um. Maybe? And what about that “I work my Christian body / for the ravens and the snakes” bit, in “The Season For Treason”? No freakin’ idea. I like the words anyways, so why mess with it?

I should note that even for somebody who’s followed this band for a while now (not as closely lately as I’d like, it’s true, but hell, I think they’ve been playing some of these songs for something like three years now), Dry Futures still holds a number of happy surprises. There’s the churning, heavy, sinister instrumental “Face Smear Pt. 1 (All Right Now),” which sounds like a Queens of the Stone Age song being covered by Polvo, the hypnotically dangerous “The Family Name,” and the slow-simmering fury of “Radio Song ’04,” all of which I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard before.

After all that, there’s also finisher “In Piles/On File,” which is probably the most straightforward “song” on here, an almost New Wave-sounding blast of brilliance that shows these guys can play it straight/simple but mostly choose not to. (Hell, there are a few Specials-sounding moments in there, especially with the guitars…) Oddly, though, the normalcy of this one track makes the rest of Dry Futures gleam even brighter, highlighting the unique, strange-but-catchy nature of the whole thing.

[Bring Back The Guns is playing 8/10/07 at The Proletariat, with The Show Is The Rainbow, The Dimes, & Always Already.]
(Feow! Records --; Bring Back The Guns --

Review by . Review posted Friday, August 10th, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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